Christmas events across Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Powys
PUBLISHED: 13:02 26 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:10 20 February 2013
Chris Poole takes a sleigh ride across the Herefordshire Life region and finds a sack full of events from horse racing to Victorian markets, a mini Hay Festival to ice skating
Chris Poole takes a sleigh ride across the Herefordshire Life region and finds a sack full of events from horse racing to Victorian markets, a mini Hay Festival to ice skating.
For the 11th year, the Hay Festival will be organising a winter weekend in the town. This year it will be from December 3 to 5 with the Christmas lights being turned on during Saturday, December 4.
These mini-Hay festivals offer events at locations around the town involving authors, music and performances. There will be activities for children and seasonal refreshments around the town. An arts and crafts market will provide Christmas shopping opportunities. Tickets for events will be available on line at www.hayfestival.com.
Not to be outdone by larger towns in the region, Usk has a spectacular Christmas tradition. Each year reindeer come from the Cairngorms to accompany Santa Claus through the streets of the town. This year the Usk Christmas Parade will start at 5pm on December 12. Town clerk Jenny Mee says: Weve been doing this for years and it attracts thousands of people. A pipe-band leads the procession - its a lovely, joyful occasion in the towns calendar.
Picturesque Ledbury is home to the Boxing Day hunt again this year. But there are seasonal treats at the towns Market Theatre too. On December 18 entertainer and musician Mervyn Stutter will be on stage for his Christmas Sprinkle, a lively mixture of music and comedy.
The well-established Ledbury Community Choir will be performing at the theatre during the evening of December 21. Conductor Malcolm Hughes describes the evening as one of carols and songs, poetry and prose. He adds: We were formed about 12 years ago and now have 60 to 70 people in the choir ranging in age from late teens to octogenarians.
Forest of Dean
Its hard to imagine a place better suited to Christmas spirit than the Forest of Dean. Winter landscapes galore and some very special events. One of these, at Clearwell Caves near Coleford, has become a popular seasonal tradition. From November 27 until January 2 the caves will be open for visitors, especially children, to visit Father Christmas in underground caverns. They can walk through the story of Cora and the Bloobious Bright. This childrens fantasy is based on the book by author Heather Holland. Heather says: Each cavern tells a part of Coras story they are three-dimensional tableaux from the book. There are Christmas markets and cafes underground too.
Caves also feature for Christmas in Newport. The pantomime this year at the Riverfront Theatre will be Aladdin. The Hiss and Boo Company will be bringing this seasonal and much-loved production to audiences throughout December.
Newports lights will be switched on at 5pm on November 21 accompanied by live music performances, street theatre and dance, parades and refreshments.
Anna Toon, the citys 629th mayor, shares some of her thoughts as the festive season approaches.
Hereford promises a sparkling start to Christmas with an afternoon of fun dedicated to Herefords Christmas Lights switch-on taking place on Sunday, November 21 with some special surprise guests. A weekend of festive fun begins on November 27 when the ice rink opens in High Town until December 31; the Buttermarket will host Santas Grotto on Saturday and on Sunday the Castle Green Christmas Fayre takes place.
Widemarsh Street re-opens on December 4and will be decked out throughout the whole of the month. A special Festival of Christmas Markets starts on December 10, ideal for finding the perfect present. With a good mix of retail throughout the city there is something for everyone.
The Christmas lights in Bromyard this year take on a very special dimension. During a visit to Blackpool earlier in the year town clerk Mike Creswell established a link with that citys famous displays. Richard Ryan, the director of the Blackpool Illuminations, has advised and supported Bromyard and will be turning on the lights in the Herefordshire town on November 20. There will be lots of entertainment in the town that day too with, in particular, jazz bands in the Falcon Mews.
Once again the racecourse will be joining in the spirit of Christmas. Race day on Saturday, December 4 will have a winter wonderland theme with refreshments including mulled wine and mince pies. Bank Holiday Monday (December 27) will see the biggest event of the Welsh racing year with the Welsh National being run at the racecourse.
The retailers of Ross, with a very active association promoting the interests of shops and shoppers alike, have developed a Christmas
Shopping Extravaganza for Sunday, December 5. There will be covered stalls in the streets with plenty of live music from choirs and bands. The town will enjoy many more lights this year and more shops will be decorating their windows with seasonal themes.
Ross will also have a Christmas carnival starting with carols in the Market Place at 4pm on Thursday, December 16.
Candles and carols in the streets have become a well-established Monmouth tradition. This year, the candlelit parade will start at 6pm on December 16. Children have always played a major role in this event with youngsters from the local primary schools singing carols during the procession. Anthea Dewhurst, one of the organisers, explains: Our parade attracts more and more people every year. In 2009 the choir from Whitchurch primary school across the border in Herefordshire was outstanding.
Kington will celebrate the season of eating plenty with a free Festive Food Fair on Saturday, December 4. A host of food stalls featuring seasonal delicacies to taste and buy will be located in and around the Market Place from 9.30am to 2.30pm. To add to the seasonal spirit a choir will treat visitors to some traditional festive music and there will be a live concert from the Little Rumba band. Alongside Christmas activities for children and an appearance by Father Christmas, pupils of Lady Hawkins School will perform a Masterchef challenge and there will be food demonstrations and a mince pie competition.
Building on the success and experience of Abergavennys Food Festival, the town is hosting, for the first time, a Christmas Food and Drink Fair. More than 60 of the regions best food producers will be accompanied by chef demonstrations, masterclasses and tastings on Sunday, December 5. The venues are Abergavennys characterful Victorian market hall, the Brewery Yard, the Angel Hotel and the Priory Centre. For ticketed events, such as the masterclasses, and general entry wristbands, the Box Office is at the Borough Theatre (telephone: 01873 850805)